"Gatka", a Sikh martial art has taken centrestage in the two-day Sirhind Fateh Divas celebrations when national and international teams, including an Australian team, Delhi zone team, gurdwara Parbandhak committee team, India team, rest of India team and Shrimoni Gatka Federation of India participated in a gatka competition held here. Besides this, 11 teams from different "akharas" too had also displayed their skills in the "gatka".
For retaining Sikh traditions and self-defence training,the Shrimoni Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has introduced special training in the name of martial art " gatka" in the schools being run by the SGPC. Students who join gatka classes have to pay half school fee.
The committee has also decided to give a relaxation in SGPC jobs to the students getting training in martial art.
"Amritdhari( baptized) " students would get education free of cost where as "gatka" players will get half-fee concession. "Gatka" is also proving popular game among girls.
The martial art was one of the main attractions in the two-day Sirhind Fateh divas. Small students were seen playing "gatka" during the procession which started from Chappar Chiri, Mohali, to Fatehgarh Sahib.
The SGPC has introduced the art as a training programme in the schools being run by it. The SGPC has also formed a department of the directorate of "gatka" and appointed Dr Manmohan Singh Bhagowalia who has been coordinating with various schools to start the classes.
Director of "gatka" Bhagowalia said that the SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar had introduced the martial art classes in 2013 and since then more than 250 SGPC schools and colleges had introduced the course to train the students.
He said that the idea to provide strength for self-defence was introduced by Sikh gurus.
Singh said that the competitions had been started at school level to give momentum to martial art for the last one year and now they had introduced inter-school level competitions to further make the art popular.
Singh also claimed that the game had gained popularity at the international level and a team from Australia had participated where as another team from Italy could not reach because of missed flight.
The martial art is finding many takers in USA, UK, France and Germany where it is being taught as a science of combat for self-defence. Last year, 60 Sikh men, women and children performed "gatka" at the American Independence Day parade in Washington DC.
"Gatka" originated in Punjab in the 15th century. It was the original martial art of Sikhs. Experts say it helped Sikhs defend themselves against Mughal invaders and eventually evolved into a sport that is exhibited during Sikh festivals.